Lil Blue before I abandoned her in the Wilkes Barre Pep Boys parking lot
On New Years Eve, my boyfriend and I set off to make the drive from D.C. To Syracuse in my little blue Saturn – affectionately known as lil blue. I’ve been driving lil blue since just before my senior year of high school so she’s been a lot of places with me. After high school lil blue traveled with me to all 3 colleges I attended, graduate school and my first job.
We had just made the same trip a few days earlier for Christmas, and I’d been bragging to anyone who would listen that week that I was about to hit 100,000 miles. Apparently that’s not a big milestone anymore, and most people hit it well before ten years. Regardless, I was pretty excited.
I took the first shift at the wheel on the way to our New Year’s party, and Pennsylvania got back at me for all the crap I’ve talked about how awful it is to drive through over the years. Just outside of Lebanon on 81 – the middle of nowhere – I heard a loud bang and the car started to rumble. This set off a series of “is this really happening” events making it quite an adventure to get home. My front tire had literally exploded, blowing off the front quarter panel of the car and damaging the horn and headlight too.
I navigated to the shoulder and after calming down gave AAA a call. I’ve always been impressed by their customer service, but they didn’t seem too enthused about helping this time. “You know it’s NYE so you’re probably out of luck,” was the response I got along with a list of Pennsylvania car repair shops and dealerships I could have just as easily pulled off google. It was also going to take over an hour to get a tow truck to us.
“Well, at least things can’t get any worse,” I said. I called shop after shop while sitting on the side of the road as cars and trucks whizzed passed us just a foot away. I kept getting the same answer – no one could help me, at least not until Monday. At the tow truck driver’s recommendation we decided to head 90 miles north to a Pep Boys in Wilkes Barre – at least we’d be going in the right direction.
“Well, at least things can’t get any worse,” I said again as we hopped into the tow truck with the driver and his wife. They were going to use our misfortune to drive up to Scranton for a fancy New Year’s dinner. If you know anything about Scranton, you’ll understand why I had a tough time not laughing at this.
At the Pep Boys I figured we were about to be back on our way to the party with a new tire in no time. The mechanic laughed when he saw the car and said there was no way he could put a new tire on until I had body work done. Of course no body shops would be open until Monday.
Determined to still make the party we asked how close we were to the Scranton airport – yes, it does exist. After turning down an offer from a slightly sketchy guy who was willing to bring just me to the airport, (with the way my luck was going, I really didn’t want to get axe-murdered that night!) Ian found a cab company to come pick us up. Our cab driver Junior was quite the character. He hated all other drivers, felt bad about how much he had to charge us and really liked the Kia gerbils commercials. The Avis rental car workers were also happy with our misfortune since they said they normally don’t get to talk to too many people there. They set us up with a Ford Fusion and we were finally back on our way to Syracuse. We missed dinner, but caught up with everyone for drinks at the hotel and had an awesome night out making it totally worth the crazy adventure it took to get there.
After some thought I decided it wasn’t worth repairing the car, and it was time to let lil blue go. The final odometer reading: 99,875 miles. I didn’t get my 100,000 miles, but I guess that’s life. You don’t always end up where you plan to, but hopefully you had some good times and fun adventures along the way to give you some great stories.